Breast milk is nature’s perfect baby food, and when a baby is exclusively breastfed there are advantages to both the little one and his mother.
Breastfeeding is a natural process that allows mother and baby to spend ample amounts of time together in a skin-to-skin setting. This has shown to reduce the stress level in infants and to promote a closer relationship between mother and child.
Perfectly Balanced Nutrition
The best benefit of all for baby is that breast milk is the body’s perfect form of nutrition. It is perfectly balanced and easy to digest so long as the mother hasn’t eaten something that would disagree with baby, such as extremely spicy food. Breast milk is not consistent throughout the way compare to formula in a bottle. Breast milk starts off as a thin watery substance to sate baby’s appetite immediately. This is followed by the bulk of the meal which is in a medium consistency. Finally, the hindmilk is released which is much like cream. This milk is rich in nutrients and is extremely soothing to baby – It is one of the reasons babies fall asleep while feeding.
Reduced Risk of Allergies and Illness
Antibodies and other aspects of the mother’s immune system are transferred through the milk to the baby to a certain degree while breastfeeding. This helps baby ward off more of the common illnesses and complaints. Breastfeeding also helps baby’s fragile digestive system develop at the proper pace preventing the onslaught of allergies and food sensitivities that might stem from milk-based formula’s harsher proteins.
Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk of Obesity
Recent studies have shown that breastfed babies have a reduced risk of becoming obese. The cause is speculated to be the style of feeding rather than the actual diet of the babies. Babies crave sucking for comfort and while nursing, the baby can suck to a degree for comfort and not actually feed at the same time. A bottle-fed baby might be offered a bottle every time he cries, which he gladly takes for its soothing principles. With a bottle, however, there is no degree of sucking and every bottle provides food which can create a comfort and food association over time.
When You Shouldn’t Breastfeed
There are numerous advantages to breastfeeding, but there are circumstances when breastfeeding is not an option or potentially dangerous. Any toxins or diseases you have can pass to your baby through breast milk. If you are taking prescribed medication, it might not be safe for breastfeeding and you should never breastfeed without clearing each prescription with your doctor. This is true for many over-the-counter medications as well.
Communicable diseases can be passed through breast milk. In fact, a sizeable portion of the world’s babies infected with HIV were born HIV-free, but contracted the disease later from their infected mothers. Diseases and medications aren’t the only things passed through your breast milk. Caffeine and alcohol can be passed as well, so many breastfeeding expert recommend pumping and dumping a feeding after imbibing in alcohol and to keep caffeinated beverages and alcohol to a minimum.